Can Innovation Be a Pharma Game Changer?

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By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

Are you looking for a real competive advantage in 2010? If I were you I would focus on innovation. turns fun brainstorm projects into reality, to encourage people to become more physically active. So far the projects include an active-video-game project, a free bicycle-sharing pilot program, and the cool (although maybe less activity-focused)Tweet Positioning System.

What’s the craziest thing about all of this creativity?Why

It’s the creation of an insurance company – the Humana Innovations Center, specifically. Martin Trussell of World Health Care Blog did a great interview post earlier this year with Humana’s Director of Consumer Innovations, Greg Matthews. Interesting stuff… mainly because it made me wonder…

If managed care is doing it, why isn’t pharma?

Humana is reinventing themselves as a wellness company. They still make their money from selling and managing health insurance plans, yes. And healthier people are good for their business, yes.

But it does seem to prove that it’s possible that drug companies could continue to develop and market drugs… but also take the wealth of data and knowledge that they have and put it to use helping people.

Everyone is moving away from “this is the thing that I’m selling you” to “this is the information that I’m providing you”. As economist Peter Drucker put it, we live and work in a knowledge economy. Companies still sell – and consumers still need – goods and services. Always have, always will.

But we want to know, we want to understand. And we want help.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies can be more than chemists and marketers. The opportunity exists to give people more, more easily than ever.

Ironically, this can be better for smaller pharmaceutical companies because the opportunity is to truly own a therapeutic area. Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson or Bayer doesn’t have all of their eggs in one basket. But a smaller company could position themselves as the company that truly helps patients with diabetes, or eczema, or arthritis. Not just by selling them drugs, but by creating a world full of beneficial products – many free.

In a world where the largest companies are combining, and the disparity with the little guys is becoming less of a gulf and more of an ocean, ideas like these could be what makes the difference.

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